The presumptive Democratic Party U.S. presidential nominee, Barack Obama, says he will begin ending U.S. troop involvement in the war in Iraq on his first day in office.

Obama told reporters Thursday that on his first day in office, he will instruct the five top U.S. military officers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to end the war "responsibly and decisively."  He also said he intends to remove U.S. troops from Iraq at a pace that will lead to a total withdrawal in 16 months.

The Illinois senator said this is the same position he has long held on Iraq.

But Obama's Republican rival, John McCain, accused him of reversing his position on Iraq.  In a statement, McCain said Obama has adopted McCain's view that the U.S. cannot risk progress made in Iraq by starting to withdraw U.S. troops immediately without concern for conditions on the ground.
Senator McCain has said U.S. troops could be in Iraq for many years and that a greater military commitment is needed to achieve long-term success.

Earlier Thursday, Obama pledged to improve care for U.S. veterans if elected president.  He spoke ahead of the U.S. Independence Day holiday Friday.

John McCain is finishing a three-day visit to Latin America.  The veteran Arizona lawmaker discussed free trade and combatting drug trafficking during stops in Colombia and Mexico.